The first line of treatment is usually weight loss through a combination of a healthy diet and exercise. Losing weight addresses the conditions that contribute to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Ideally, a loss of 10 percent of body weight is desirable, but improvement in risk factors can become apparent if you lose even three to five percent of your starting weight. Weight-loss surgery is also an option for those who need to lose a great deal of weight.

Your doctor may recommend that you receive vaccinations against hepatitis A and hepatitis B to help protect you from viruses that may cause further liver damage.

For those who have cirrhosis due to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, liver transplantation may be an option. Outcomes of liver transplant in this population group are generally very good.

Potential future treatments

No FDA-approved drug treatment exists for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, but a few drugs are being studied with promising results.

Alternative medicine

No alternative medicine treatments are proved to cure nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. But researchers are studying whether some natural compounds could be helpful, such as:

  • Vitamin E. In theory, vitamin E and other vitamins called antioxidants could help protect the liver by reducing or neutralizing the damage caused by inflammation. But more research is needed.

    Some evidence suggests vitamin E supplements may be helpful for people with liver damage caused by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. But vitamin E has been linked with increased risk of death and, in men, an increased risk of prostate cancer.

  • Coffee. In studies of people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, those who reported drinking coffee had less liver damage than those who drank little or no coffee. It's not clear how coffee may influence liver damage or how much coffee you'd need to drink in order to benefit.

    If you already drink coffee, these results may make you feel better about your morning cup of coffee. But if you don't already drink coffee, this probably isn't a good reason to start. Discuss the potential benefits of coffee with your doctor.

Aug. 23, 2016
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